Bush's [In]Competence or Conservatism: Framing the Debate

As we look forward to the inauguration of the first democratic president of our young century, we are perhaps just as eager to evict the current office holder from "our house" as we are to install the new one.  Given George W. Bush's disastrous record and poll numbers, we can expect the culmination of his service--if we can call it that--to be greeted with significantly subdued fanfare.  But we nonetheless face a bit of a conundrum that may significantly affect political debates for at least a decade.  Some will attribute the failure of our 43rd president to his culture of incompetence.  Others will emphasize the failure of his conservatism to address both domestic and international challenges.  

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Why Did Obama Say "Admit" So Much (and other observations)

To choose a favorite talking head buzz phrase, I think Barack Obama did what he had to do tonight.  And he did it quite well.

First, closing a convention that erred too far on the side of nice (that means you, Mark Warner), Barack Obama came out swinging against John McCain, and I think he managed to do it in a way that's hard to characterize as "nasty" or "shrill" or "too angry," unless you're one of the people who characterizes Democrats that way for a living.  He crossed that threshold John Kerry or Al Gore never quite did, where you take on political opponents with a toughness that suggests you could take on enemies as President.  And he maintained his sense of humor while doing it.

Second, Obama also addressed the imaginary lack of specificity in his policy proposals (the only thing more imaginary may be the desire among voters to hear specifics of policy proposals) by laying out a series of them (including improvements to the bankruptcy law that his running mate helped worsen).  He had to do it; it's good that he did.  But it's an especially silly expectation coming from a press corps that lets John McCain continue praising himself for having championed policies he currently opposes.  It's a good sign that the speech gets compared to a State of the Union address (or is that too presumptuous!).

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Sometimes I get pissed coming here...

Sometimes I get seriously pissed when I come here to read posts.

Not because I don't expect people to disagree with my viewpoint.  I generally love a good healthy, reasoned debate.  Unfortunately, for some reasoned doesn't come into play.

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Obama Shifts? Rhetoric vs. Policy, Strategy vs. Tactics

Cross posted at The Left Anchor.

The following post is cannibalized from a comment I made at TPZoo.  It seems to me that some Obama supporters might be going a bit overboard with their declarations that Obama has made "massive" shifts to the center (I feel his biggest shifts are on FISA and NAFTA, the second of which doesn't surprise me, and the first of which would probably pass no matter what he did).  As for foreign policy, here is my take on Obama's Iraq position:

There are two basic elements to military action: strategy and tactics. Strategy is the long term plan aimed at achieving a given goal. Obama has very clearly stated that his strategy is to remove troops at roughly two brigades per month until all troops are out. This will achieve the goal of removing us from the Iraq quagmire. What is important to note here is that specific tactics for achieving this strategy do not fall under Obama's domain. He doesn't have the military training to be making those decisions. Presidents in general don't make those types of low-level decisions. That would be micromanaging, which is just generally a poor way to run things.

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What are the Alegre wars all about?

The comments section of Alegre's diaries have become a central phenomenon of this blog. Her posts, devoted supporters, and equally committed detractors seem to produce effects that reach beyond these heated and largely unproductive discussions, begging questions of what they accomplish and offering the opportunity to ask what we are trying to achieve on this blog in general.

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